A student at prestigious Smith College, one of the historically female and highly selective "Seven Sisters" colleges on the East Coast, is urging the school to set up tampon and sanitary pad dispensers in men’s bathrooms to accommodate "those with uteruses."
Jade Mosely made the suggestion in a commentary titled "Smith Has a Period Problem" posted Wednesday in The Sophian, an independent student press of Smith College.
"Rather than adopting a clandestine attitude towards menstruation to cater to cisgender men, Smith should pioneer by taking the strangely radical position of understanding a period for what it is; a cycle common to those with uteruses which requires hygienic care," she wrote.
"The horrifying middle school classroom paranoia that your period has started fades away mostly in high school, and nearly completely at an institution like Smith," Mosely argued. "However, I think we need to do more than simply remove the stigma around periods."
Mosely made the case that other schools with "less focus on gender equality" have taken similar measures.
"Since 2007, University of Minnesota has provided free tampons in all campus bathrooms. At University of Washington, a college wide program has made menstrual products free and accessible in nearly all campus restrooms," she wrote.
"Clearly, institutions of higher education are capable of providing free menstrual products to students. Not doing so is a deliberate choice, and it sends a clear message to menstruating students about the lack of care for their wellbeing."
Although 98% of the student body is female, according to the school, about 2% are male, the Daily Mail reported.
Its alumnae includes two first ladies — Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush — as well as other high-profile women, including feminist trailblazer Gloria Steinem, "Gone With The Wind" author Margaret Mitchell, TV chef Julia Child, and poet Sylvia Plath, the Daily Mail noted.
"Attending a historically women’s college is not a safe haven from gendered societal problems, and Smith is not exempt from the widespread effects of period poverty by virtue alone," Mosely wrote.
"Supporting students of varying identities requires institutional action — and a fairly simple one. I only ask that Smith takes the hygienic needs of its student body seriously."
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